The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)

The UK in the late 1970s was a drastically different place than in earlier postwar times. The country had moved from the swinging sixties into something far more inappropriate and nasty. The Winter Of Discontent was just around the corner. People no longer expected to be civil in public matters.

Along came The Sex Pistols, featuring vocalist Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon), guitarist Steve Jones, bassist Glen Matlock, and drummer Paul Cook. Sid Vicious later replaced Glen Matlock as a “bass player” but the intent was all there for people to see. These men respectively wanted to show the world what anarchy was capable of.

The album itself is brilliant. It sounds unlike the mainstream Disco of the time: raw; unapologetic and powerful. It’s a landmark that has inspired countless bands over the years in getting a fresh start in the world of music.

We begin with Holidays In The Sun. It talks about the issue of the Berlin Wall and how Johnny Rotten observed and questions if life on the other side of the Communist-built wall in Europe would have been better. From the outset, we hear a loud and noisy rock piece which is absolutely brilliant in impact. Everything about The Sex Pistols was top notch in this respect.

The follow-up Bodies tells the real-life tale of a stalker who Johnny Rotten had who didn’t know whether or not she wished to abort after getting pregnant from someone else other than Johnny Rotten. It’s neither pro nor anti-abortion in this respect, it’s just delivered. No wonder more conservative people were horrified at this imagery.

No Feelings tells the story of how people really feel about being self-obsessed with themselves. It is, of course, a mockery of this idea, and a very good sarcastic and wonderfully delivered piece as that.

Liar is similar but demands people to be at least more honest with each other. “Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie. You lie, lie, lie, lie, lie. Tell me why?!” asks Johnny Rotten. In a world of fake music and fake groups, Johnny Rotten wanted people to be more honest with each other than superficiality demanded in typical circumstances. Direct.

The anti-anthem God Save The Queen is an anti-establishment and anti-monarchy piece that was, believe it or not, a hit single. It coincided with the Queen’s silver jubilee celebrations of the time and forever blacklisted the group from being accepted by many authorities. It’s just awesome though.

The follow-up Problems showed that really, “The problem is you!” and not anyone else. It’s an impacting and direct statement that isn’t easily forgotten, even for a lesser-known track.

Seventeen is awful but is saved by the semi-chorus refrain, “I’m a lazy sod!” The purpose of this song is to articulate how people waste away their lives. It’s a very concise and honest song.

Anarchy In The U.K. is the definitive song by The Sex Pistols and is one of the only songs Glen Matlock played bass guitar on. Everything about it shows how wonderfully powerful The Sex Pistols were. What an energetic and controversial piece in the world of music.

The manager of The Sex Pistols is explicitly referred to indirectly in Submission. It’s singalong but has a deeper meaning to the song. Still very enjoyable though.

The follow-up Pretty Vacant is about what you’d think. It’s a rebellious ode to just not doing anything with the day. It has some very simple riffs by guitarist Steve Jones and proves you don’t need to be a professionally trained guitarist to make good music.

New York is not a Frank Sinatra style song. Instead, it is a total parody of the city and the birthplace of punk rock. It doesn’t bore one either.

E.M.I. finishes the record by raising a middle finger to the touchy business of recording companies that wouldn’t have a bar of The Sex Pistols. It’s so out there and to the point that it’s surprising that Richard Branson signed these guys. Explicit.

This album is now seen as a must-own for fans of rock music and those who followed afterward. It’s absolutely a great and wild listen for those who like the more aggressive side of rock. If you collect classic albums, don’t forget to add this to your own collection. You won’t regret the impact of this loud, raw and abrasive album.

7/10

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